Russia and China 'behind current spam deluge'

As hardcore criminals step up their spamming, experts believe that nine out of 10 of all emails may soon be unsolicited junk.

Organized criminals based in Russia are fuelling the rise in the amount of spam sent over the Internet, according to a leading opponent of junk mail.

Steve Linford, director of The Spamhaus Project, warned on Tuesday that these gangs are supplying U.S.-based spammers with details of compromised PCs that can be used to send out their unsolicited commercial messages. These computers can also be used to create viruses that will create more of these open proxies.

"There is a new level of criminality in the spamming world," Linford told the Openwave Messaging Anti-Abuse conference in London. "Russian gangs are creating viruses and proxies and selling them onto U.S. spammers."

According to Linford, these Russian gangs aren't constrained by any anti-spam or cybercrime laws in their home country and have no respect for legislation implemented in other countries.

Linford also told the conference that some 70 percent of spam is sent from China by American spam outfits who are hosting their servers with Chinese ISPs. In many cases the spammers have set up firewalls so that the ISPs can't actually see what's being hosted.

"We keep battling with Chinese ISPs who don't understand what we are complaining about," said Linford, whose organization run a number of blacklists in an attempt to prevent spammers sending their wares out onto the Web.

Estimates vary for the extent of the spam problem, with MessageLabs reporting on Tuesday that 76 percent of the emails it scanned in May were spam--a greater percentage than ever before.

Linford, who was scathing about the anti-spam laws that have been brought in by the British and American governments, believes that this trend will probably continue.

"While the U.K. and U.S. put the concerns of the direct marketing industry ahead of the interests of citizens, this problem will continue to get worse. Unless things change drastically, we predict that 80 percent of email will be spam by December this year, and it's very likely to go to 90 percent by this summer," Linford warned.

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